When you purchase a new minivan at a dealership, the salesperson may ask you to consider adding a Dodge Caravan extended warranty or service contract. Before you decide whether to add this expensive option to your purchase, it's a good idea to understand how warranties work, whether you really need one, the types of warranties on the market, and what you should pay for coverage. Doing your homework on this important automotive purchase will give you peace of mind as you drive your minivan in the coming years.
Understanding Dodge Caravan Extended Warranties
Before you begin considering warranties, you should know that all new Dodge Caravans come with a basic manufacturer's warranty. This original agreement covers the entire vehicle for the first three years or 36,000 miles you own it. This is called a "bumper-to-bumper" warranty, and it includes everything on the vehicle except wear and tear items like tires, brakes, and regular oil changes. Additionally, your new Caravan comes with a 5-year powertrain warranty, which covers items that make the car move, including the engine and transmission components, for up to 100,000 miles or 5 years. Extended warranties pick up where this original warranty leaves off.
Do You Really Need One?
You should base the decision to buy Dodge Caravan extended warranties on how long you plan to keep the vehicle. If it's a new minivan and you plan to own it three years or less, skip the extended warranty. If you plan to keep it well past the manufacturer's warranty, you should consider an extended warranty. While Dodge has been improving its quality in recent years, these minivans often get mixed reviews on reliability from sources like Consumer Reports. If you're concerned about adding repairs to your monthly car budget, an extended warranty might give you a bit more confidence in your vehicle.
However, Consumer Reports also published survey results indicating that less than 40 percent of new car buyers saved money with an extended warranty. In order to determine whether extended coverage is a good option for you, compare prices from several different sources. Call your mechanic and ask about common vehicle problems and the cost of repairs. If the cost of common repairs is lower than the cost of the warranty, you may be better off without the extended coverage.
Where Should You Buy One?
You can buy an extended warranty from your Dodge or Chrysler dealership at the time you purchase your car, or you can also purchase an extended warranty from Dodge after you've owned your car for some time. The Dodge Service Contracts website offers details about the various extended warranties available. They range from simple maintenance-only plans to coverage for every mechanical part in your vehicle. Keep in mind that a Dodge Caravan manufacturer extended warranty purchased at any Dodge or Chrysler dealership assures that any warranty work performed will be completed by factory trained mechanics.
Aftermarket extended warranty companies are another option. These warranties are often cheaper than the manufacturer's extended warranty; however, you may have to go to one of their certified repair centers to have warranty work performed. In addition, some extended warranty companies, but not all, have you pay upfront and then reimburse you later once you send them the invoice. The following companies offer aftermarket warranties for Dodge Caravans:
What Should You Pay?
The cost of an extended warranty will vary depending on several factors:
- Age of your Caravan
- Type of coverage
- Negotiated discounts
- Whether it's an aftermarket or dealer warranty
- Whether you will allow limitations on who can service your vehicle
Although prices will vary significantly, you can expect to spend around five percent of the purchase price for a dealer warranty on a new car. Dealers can mark-up the price on extended warranties, so negotiate the price you pay. Aftermarket warranty companies offer extended warranties for new vehicles for about three percent to four percent of the vehicle cost. The higher the deductible, the lower the cost of the warranty will be. These companies do not negotiate their prices.
If you are purchasing a used Dodge Caravan and it has 80,000 miles or less, you can still obtain an extended warranty that will cover repairs up to 100,000 miles. Almost all extended warranties, including manufacturer extended warranties, won't cover vehicles that have 100,000 miles or more. Expect to pay more when you purchase an extended warranty for a used vehicle. You may pay as much as 14% of the vehicle's value for extended coverage from the dealer or an aftermarket retailer.
Extended Warranty Buying Tips
As you shop for an extended warranty for your Dodge Caravan, keep these buying tips in mind:
- The manufacturer's warranty is fully transferable, so it can be an asset if your decide to sell your minivan. This type of warranty means trained mechanics will work on your vehicle. You are only responsible for your deductible and, in some states, the sales tax on the deductible. You can often finance the manufacturer's warranty into your car loan as well.
- If you buy an aftermarket extended warranty, ask where you have to go for vehicle service and if you have to pay upfront. Ask your local Dodge or Chrysler dealership if they honor any aftermarket warranties. Remember that aftermarket repair facilities or independent repair facilities usually don't have factory-trained mechanics.
- Remember that all extended warranties have tiers of coverage. Try and buy the highest tier so you aren't surprised at repair time. Read the fine print to see what coverage you're getting and ask questions about that coverage.
- Remember to negotiate on the price of any dealer warranties you purchase, especially at the time you buy a new minivan. In fact, you can ask the dealer to knock 25% off their price or give you a steep discount on a warranty to help close the deal.
Do Your Homework
As with all important car-related purchases, buying Dodge Caravan extended warranties requires a bit of outside research. If a warranty is important for your peace of mind and seems to make financial sense for your family, be sure to research all the options. Dealer and aftermarket warranties are all different, so always read the fine print to be sure you understand the coverage you're buying. Doing your homework could save you money and future headaches.